B.liars, Wild Tigers and pink ribbons: Cannes here we come

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Martin Moodie
Martin Moodie is the Founder & Chairman of The Moodie Report.

I’m 10,363 feet above my old haunt of Novosibirsk, onboard Cathay Pacific 255 hurtling towards London Heathrow at 819km per hour, a little over six hours away.

A few much-needed hours sleep in the bag after my long trip down to New Zealand last week and a two-day stop in Hong Kong, I’m now in overdrive over Siberia, manfully trying to catch up on everything that has fallen behind during my many recent weeks on the road (eight of the last nine) and to prepare for the TFWA World Exhibition in Cannes starting (for me) on Saturday.

My body clock is so far awry that it’s probably gone into a form of timekeeping hibernation so if you see me wandering down the Croisette in Cannes at 4 in the morning next week, it won’t be because I’ve been out partying but because I can’t sleep.

I look forward to Cannes with a mixture of anticipation and dread. Anticipation of being part of the buzz of travel retail’s premier event and catching up with so many industry friends; dread at the near around-the-clock pressure of maintaining this website, my business, and all my Cannes engagements.

At least I won’t have to report on this year’s conference. As I have noted previously, I won’t be attending the event due to the choice of former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair as keynote speaker, in my view an abdication of leadership and responsibility by an association normally so adept and progressive in its choices.

Remember this: a third of the British people would like Blair, or BLiar as he is known in some circles, to be tried as a war criminal according to a 2017 YouGov poll for his deception in leading Britain into the Iraq war. Be mindful of that statistic and remember the tragedy of the lives lost in (and since) that conflict if you’re tempted to stand up and applaud at the end of his no doubt eloquent and even less no doubt generously funded speech.

Reaction to my criticism of that choice has been interesting. Many have agreed, others say that Blair’s experience of seminal world events makes his a voice that should be listened to. That divergence of opinion is just as it should be in a democratic world. If I have achieved nothing else but to make TFWA think more carefully about future choices, then that is good enough.

TFWA, an association for which I have immense respect, is entitled to its view, me to mine. Less acceptable is the stated view of a rival media title, which wrote the following lines that surely should be documented in any anthology devoted to the abandonment of journalistic principles in the interests of sucking up to an institution.

  • The choice of British Prime Minister Tony Blair as keynote speaker at this year’s TFWA Global Conference has been received positivity (sic) in the main [the title’s research to back up this claim being about as thin as Blair’s evidence that Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction. He didn’t. Ed]
  • Industry stakeholders have every right to criticise conferences and events and suggest improvements, but do TFWA members have more of a right than non-members to voice opinions in terms of how the Association should spend its money? [No. But they have – and must have – equal right. Are you seriously querying the right of journalists to question?  Fox News comes to travel retail. Ed]
  • One common denominator among all these reactions is that none even pay lip service to the hefty speaker fee Blair is believed to command. Some industry stakeholders, however, might have their own informed estimates of the money require (sic) to secure his services and believe TFWA would have been better off investing this in other initiatives such as its TFWA Care programme. [Well, as I was the only person to suggest TFWA Care was a more suitable beneficiary of TFWA funds than Blair’s burgeoning coffers, I guess this is directed at me. I would direct it back but the combination of thinly veneered attack, misuse of ‘lip service’ and appalling English hardly justifies it. Ed]
  • Love him or loathe him, respect him or not respect him, high speaker fee or reasonable speaker fee, one thing is certain. Tony Blair will add value to this year’s TFWA Global Conference. [Certain? Yeah, right. Just like those weapons of mass destruction. Ed]

I cringe reading it. Journalism? Hardly. But if it is, it’s straight from the bottom drawer.

To matters more positive. If you see me or any of our team wearing pink in Cannes it’s due to our #thinkpinkTR support of Breast Cancer Awareness month and The Estée Lauder Companies Breast Cancer Campaign in October. Not only us – we are urging the worldwide travel retail community to turn pink next month, starting with the TFWA World Exhibition in Cannes and culminating with The Trinity Forum in Doha.


Our team will all be wearing (at least) one pink item throughout Cannes and Trinity – with Dermot Davitt and I donning pink socks donated by Happy Socks (including pink versions of the Thumbs Up and Pink Panther lines) and giving away pairs to retailers we interview.

We are encouraging all travel retail executives at Cannes and The Trinity Forum (30-31 October in Doha) to wear a pink item or ribbon and for the travel retail community around the world to adopt pink in some way during the month. Please especially make your presence felt at the Opening Cocktail this Sunday.

In return:

  • For the most stylish pink outfit in Cannes, we will donate US$1,500 to the breast cancer charity of the wearer’s choice.
  • We will donate a double-page spread of advertising in our post-Cannes Moodie Davitt eZine to the brand with the best #thinkpinkTR touch on their Cannes stand.
  • We will pledge a similar cash/charity prize to the best #thinkpinkTR initiative around the travel retail world in October.

We will also be recognising another great Corporate Social Responsibility initiative in Cannes, the Wild Tiger Roar Trip. The Moodie Davitt Report has been providing exclusive daily coverage of one of travel retail’s boldest CSR initiatives, via our special line extension, The Moodie Davitt Roarport.

Fueled by The Moodie Davitt Report

It has told the tale of Wild Tiger executives Gautom Menon (Founder) and Paul George Vedanayagam’s epic 65-day road trip from Kerala to Cannes to raise awareness of the tiger conservation cause.

The tigerishly tenacious twosome will arrive this Saturday on the eve of TFWA World Exhibition. We and many others will be there to greet them at a special welcome to the French ‘Roar-viera’ that evening (it is invitation only, so if you want to join us, email me at Martin@MoodieDavittReport.com).

Gautom and Paul haven’t just raised awareness about tiger conservation. They’ve also done wonders in spreading the word about the merits of the duty free industry. For that alone, and for their courage in making this epic journey and doing so much for tiger conservation, they deserve our immense respect. I would love to see TFWA show its more familiar progressive side and confer life membership upon Wild Tiger in return for what Gautom and Paul have done.

I look forward to seeing many of this Blog’s readers in Cannes. And remember… #thinkpinkTR

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  • The awareness for Gautom and Paul’s tiger conservation campaign has been amazing, but what would be even MORE amazing would be to increase the level of donations made – after all, without the necessary funds, the good work cannot continue.
    To donate please visit https://roartrip.in/donation/ or bring along some Euros (or any other cash) to Ma Nolan’s in Cannes on Saturday night (from 1900) where many of us will be gathering to celebrate Gautom and Paul’s arrival in Cannes. Tiger themed attire welcomed!